Sunday, January 17, 2010

UNICEF in Haiti

Now, you could be Charlie Rose all you want, but nobody's watching Charlie Rose." That is a quote from Glenn Beck during a recent interview. I, however, was watching Charlie Rose the other day as a panel discussed the relief efforts in Haiti. I was interested in what Ann Veneman had to say on the work of UNICEF. UNICEF reports that children make up 50% of that country's population.

Here is the latest press release from their website:

NEW YORK, 16 January 2010 – Another plane loaded with UNICEF emergency relief supplies arrived in Port-au-Prince this morning, carrying urgently needed water and sanitation supplies. This is the second load of UNICEF water and sanitation materials to arrive in Haiti in the past 24 hours. The shipment contained additional oral rehydration salts, water purification tablets and jerry cans. Two experts in water and sanitation were also on the flight.

Providing access to clean water and sanitation is essential in the immediate aftermath of disasters, to avoid a second wave of deaths caused by diarrheal diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Children are particularly susceptible to diarrheal diseases.

Two more UNICEF planeloads, loaded with some 70 metric tons of tents, tarpaulin, and medicines, are currently awaiting clearance to fly to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Ann Veneman, the current Executive Director of UNICEF, accepted the position in 2005. Before that, she was Secretary of Agriculture for President George W. Bush. She presents a calm, intelligent and compassionate voice for the children in need. She is particularly vigilant in her commitment to protect children vulnerable to the threats of trafficking and abuse. The UNICEF buildings in Port-au-Prince were damaged and there is no communication from there.

Unfortunately, the U.N. - from which UNICEF is separated - does not have a particularly good record of late in disaster relief. The U.S. military will be the leader in this mission. Many U.N. staffers in Haiti were killed or injured in the earthquake. We recall during the last natural disaster that captured the attention of the world - the tsunami in Malaysia - the then UN humanitarian coordinator, Jan Egeland, felt the need to go to the microphones and declare Americans 'stingy' in the financial response in the early days of the rescue efforts. He was hugely wrong, of course, and our generosity shined as it always does. We are still the world's 911 and the nation most capable of showing international generosity despite the hateful criticisms of elite, career diplomats and talking heads. The UN is rife with corruption and abuse. The UN has come under attack for lack of transparency by investigative reports, as pointed out by stellar reporter Claudia Rossett and others.

Let's hope the children see aid and comfort in a timely and transparent manner.

1 comment:

Beverly said...

Fortunately, they have groups like Compassion and World Vision who work in the country and are distributing food and needed supplies to the children. That is where my money has gone.